Ken Guyatt may well be the oldest active footballer in Queensland – if not Australia – but the 80-year-old fullback says he has no plans to retire.
In fact, the elder statesman of Toowong FC believes he still has what it takes to mix it with men half his age.
“I now play in the over-45s, but I’ve told the over-35s if they’re short of players, I’m more than happy to go and play for them,” said Guyatt.
“I like football because I like to stay fit, but I hate going to gyms and hate doing exercises. Playing soccer, you have to run and you have to duck and weave. The bump and grind of soccer appeals to me. I’m just another player on the field, and if they can beat me, they will.”
Guyatt grew up on a cane farm in Gin Gin, a small town 400km northwest of Brisbane, and began his football journey as a teenager in Bundaberg in 1954.
“When I was in high school, I had to board with an English couple who had three sons who played soccer, so I used to go and play with them,” he explained.
For someone who was raised in a non-sporting family, it was the beginning of an unlikely love affair with the round ball.
“I was aware of rugby league and rugby union and other sports, but there was no comparison, as far as I was concerned,” recalled Guyatt. “I just played soccer and wasn’t concerned with anything else.”
After moving off the farm to Brisbane in 1958, Guyatt busied himself with work at the Postmaster-General’s Department, before taking up the game again once his son, Mark, started playing junior football.
From there, Guyatt played for North Star in the old Queensland Soccer Federation and for a team called Athletico in Brisbane’s Commercial League, before settling with Toowong FC.
The highlight, for Guyatt, was the years he spent playing alongside his son.
“We had a good father-son combination,” he said. “It was fantastic, because every weekend we’d go to the soccer together. It was great fun.”
Yet while his son has since given the game away, Ken is still running around in the green and gold of Toowong FC. According to club president Will Vandenberg, he is a perfect fit at a club that celebrates its centenary this year.
“I know Ken hasn’t been with us that long, given the length of his career, but it’s great to have him at Toowong,” said Vandenberg. “We are a family club that offers opportunities for members of all abilities levels and ages, from MiniRoos to Masters.
“I play ‘old man’s football’ as well, and what always impresses me and others around the club is that Ken is in his 80th year, yet he’s still out there every week at training and games.
“His love of football and being around the club is infectious. I’m 47 now and I cannot imagine doing what he’s doing at 80. I don’t think I’ve seen him injured during his time at Toowong.”
Indeed, Guyatt is a picture of good health with a thick head of hair.
“A lot of players that I’ve played against over the years know me because of my white hair. I rub it in to some of these blokes on the field because they’ve got chrome domes in their early 40s,” joked Guyatt.
“I have been asked to play in the Golden Oldies, but I can’t imagine that; it’s just not my scene. I just like playing under the same rules as the young ones.”
Asked the secret to his longevity, Guyatt lists strong genes, a diet of simple, healthy food and good fortune with injuries.
“When I was 50, I had a knee injury that was pretty bothersome, and I thought I might have to retire,” he said.
“But I played the next year, and it got better and better. So now I just play year to year, and I’m not planning on retiring. I could be forced out, but that’s about the only way they’ll get rid of me!”
To find out more about Toowong FC’s Centenary Year celebrations, click here.
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